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Fire Services help businesses return to work safely

Now that your business is starting to operate again, there are some key fire safety matters for you to consider.

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service are helping businesses return to work safely in these extraordinary times.

Businesses have had to adapt to new ways of working over the past 11 weeks, which has seen them face great challenges. However, our teams are on hand to help businesses return to work safely as restrictions are eased.

Councillor Christine Bateson, Member Champion for Community Safety, said: “We are here to support you the best we can during these challenging times, whilst ensuring compliance is met with Fire Safety Legislation to keep all staff, customers, and visitors safe whilst on your premises. Our Fire Safety Inspecting Officers are working to provide support and guidance to ensure that businesses and customers across the Thames Valley are safe when businesses reopen, and are on hand to answer any questions you may have with regards to your business needs.”

New ways of working may mean that your business needs have changed, and so it is important to review your Fire Risk Assessment to ensure that it reflects how your business is now operating. Some key aspects of your business that could affect your fire risk assessment include:

  • Changes to work processes and their implementation, e.g. new equipment.
  • Temporary change of use in the premises, e.g. introduced sleeping on premises.
  • Alterations to the building, including the internal layout.
  • Substantial changes to furniture and fixings.
  • Increase or change of stock kept on site.
  • An increase or decrease in the numbers of staff or customers at your premises.
  • Are you still able to safely evacuate everybody from the premises? Is your fire assembly point still workable with social distancing in mind?

There may be other considerations to take into account as you prepare to return to work.

  • How much rubbish are you generating? Ensure all rubbish is properly disposed of to reduce the risk of arson.
  • Are your means of escape suited to the number of people in your building and their needs? Ensure that means of escape are kept clear and are suited to the needs of the people within your building.
  • Do you have new members of staff? Make sure that staff are properly trained, including any additional training needs that may have arisen in your Fire Risk Assessment.
  • Does your fire warning system and emergency lighting work correctly? Whilst the premises have been closed, have these systems been tested?
  • Don’t be tempted to prop open fire doors. Minimising contact with door handles may be at the forefront of people’s minds at the moment, but do not use wedges or extinguishers to hold open fire doors.

Our teams are on hand to help you return to work safely. If you have queries about fire safety in the workplace, please visit the Safety at Work page where you will find advice and guidance, as well as contact details for our Fire Safety offices.